Joel Selwood is an inspirational captain, a clutch player and courageous with physical contact. Yes, yes and yes. Joel Selwood is a good footballer. But is it boring to love Joel Selwood? Ken Sakata investigates.
Is Joel Selwood interesting?
Without being elite at anything, Selwood is good at practically everything. He plays inside and outside. He makes good decisions. He is a pure footballer.
Selwood is a fierce competitor and a captain who leads by example. These qualities are inherently inspiring and exciting.
Is Joel Selwood boring?
Let’s go abstract. Football is an entertainment business. Football writers write about narratives. The more story-like, the better. Usually, this means some sort of challenge overcome, lessons learnt, realisations made, etc.
The story of Joel Selwood is a talented man who was drafted into the best situation at the best possible time and has grown into the winning-est career, potentially ever. (The only doubt on Selwood was an injured knee pre-draft. This has turned out to be pretty much nothing.)
Everything has worked out for Selwood. To love Joel Selwood is to love Entourage’s Vinnie Chase.
Those Geelong greats retired or got traded though. Vinnie Chase got fired off Smoke Jumpers.
I mean, sure. Bartel, Johnson and Kelly leave Geelong. Then Patrick Dangerfield falls in Selwood’s lap. Cue Dangerwood.
Vinnie Chase gets fired, then immediately lands the leading role in a Scorsese directed Great Gatsby. Joel and Vinnie can’t stop winning, man.
What about the ducking?
Using your head to exploit a rule written to protect it is poetic, I give you that. It’s a cheap way to get free kicks. Then there’s the issue of children and suburban footballers imitating Selwood for far less return. In the age of concussion awareness, the whole thing is problematic.
But in reality, Joel Selwood exploiting this rule is not his fault. It’s not Selwood’s responsibility that the AFL has a ducking problem.
Does the ducking make Joel Selwood more interesting?
There’s something weird about the duality of braving damage and self-harm.
If you discard the identity of Selwood as some sort of heroic figure and consider the alternatives: A deceitful, cunning Selwood? A masochistic Selwood who gets off on head knocks? While off-brand for Selwood, these are exciting areas to explore.
Joel Selwood is my favourite player. Am I boring?
Now we’re getting places. It depends on how you choose your favourite player. The way I see it, you could use performance, an inspiring story or non-tangibles (e.g. personality, courage, hardness). These are all things Selwood is popularly known for.
Yet Selwood isn’t the best player on his own team (Dangerfield), the most inspiring (Daniel Menzel had four ACL reconstructions and returned to top flight football), or the most courageous (Tom Lonergan lost a kidney). Saying Selwood is your favourite is like saying Grill’d hamburgers are your favourite. It’s a relatively good burger. And probably an opinion held by a large number of people. But, y’know, it’s Grill’d.
Saying Selwood is your favourite player is like saying Despacito is your all-time favourite song. It’s impossible to say that’s a wrong opinion. (Although that’s what I’m saying.)
Who’s more interesting than Selwood?
If you like Joel Selwood, there’s Rhys Mathieson.
The Brisbane midfielder has made a career of approximating Selwood’s game. You have all the hallmarks of Selwood’s game: physicality, commitment, ducking for frees. You see this through the prism of human fallibility, because well, Mathieson isn’t as good as Selwood. He isn’t constrained by a good-boy persona either. Mathieson is almost universally derided for his confidence.
You’re telling me Rhys Mathieson is more interesting than Joel Selwood.
Mathieson’s melted-wax Selwood is infinitely more interesting than the real deal.
Hang on. Who’s your favourite player?
Um, Levi Casboult.
Meta-appreciation of football is almost certainly a curse. This is what happens when you think abstractly about football and emphasise narrative over performance. You end up with Levi Casboult as your favourite player.
I never said anything about being happier.